When the Johnson County Commission passed a new budget last week, it included higher taxes to pay for better parks, libraries and transit.
It was the first increase in the county’s property tax levy since 2006.
Now county officials move on to the next, extremely important step: Spend the money as promised.
▪ The Johnson County Park and Recreation Department must carry out its pledges to follow a strategic vision that calls for adding amenities at undeveloped parks. The agency also will have to build miles of new trails as well as new restrooms, shelters and playgrounds. And it must take better care of established parks. The agency is slated to get an extra $6.3 million a year.
▪ The Johnson County Library will need to follow through on putting in place a comprehensive master plan that includes replacing some facilities and renovating others. One crucial goal is to make sure libraries keep pace with new technology, which will attract users of all ages. The system will receive an extra $5.2 million a year.
▪ And Johnson County Transit must keep its promise to use an extra $1.5 million a year to make it easier for people to get around the county and to connect with bus lines serving other communities, especially Kansas City.
Commission Chairman Ed Eilert reminded everyone at last Thursday’s vote that the commission will expect updates on how the strategic plans are being carried out.
If sufficient progress is made each year, the tax increases should be allowed to continue. If problems pop up, the elected officials could have good reasons to scale back some of the extra funding in the future.